The friendly carp

May 31, 2007


This woman is feeding the carp. The carp, being quite tame, are bobbing right up to the surface to get the best bits of bread. The woman is then patting the carp on the head.

You’ll also note that even skinny Chinese woman get bum crack every now and again too.

Chinese supermarket

May 29, 2007


D and I found these in a traditional Chinese supermarket (French Concession, Shanghai). These are usually small, white-tiled, and fairly clean, with live animals, noodles, and fruit and vegetables. 

I was convinced these squiggly things were some type of sea snake. They sure didn’t look like eels.

D asked the stall-holders: “Are these sea snakes?” No. “Eels?” No. “What are they then?” But they just laughed uncomfortably.

Late that night, L (Chinese, and knowledgeable) was able to confirm that these are in fact eels. She said that eels are always kept near toads in Chinese supermarkets.

 Perhaps it’s considered sensible to keep all the ugly things together in one corner.


I didn’t eat here. It’s in quite a touristy location, and it’s very open to the street, so I presume that prices would be very high and the food would be crap. However, surely any time spent among these hot-pink chairs would be uplifting.


Distinguished from jioazi (normal dumplings) by their soup-like liquid contained within the buns, xiaolongbao (little steamer buns) are the Shanghainese street-food speciality.

The liquid isn’t inserted into the buns; rather, it’s drawn from the dumpling mix — which presumably has a higher proportion of cabbage to pork to produce the liquid — during the steaming process. Delicious.

We had the xiaolongbao with some glass noodle soup served with tofu, blocks of congealed pig’s blood, and other random body parts, opposite a prison (pictured), which allegedly holds 20,000. Spookily, from our streetside lunch spot, prisoners could watch us through the shutters, but we couldn’t see them.

Some Spanish people told D off for taking photos of the prison. This just made him take even more photos. From above, a guard was eyeing us intently. D said, encouragingly, ‘how fast can you run?’ Luckily congealed pig’s blood provides a lot of energy.

May 25, 2007


This is the cutest translation I’ve seen so far.


May 10, 2007

Last night we had dinner at Mini ( The food was fantastic, especially the starters: mini chicken pie, savoury and delicate with a light, moist pastry; tiny, slightly salty calamari with lime and spinach; and aromatic beef-mince-stuffed ‘spring rolls’.

The chefs certainly have their act together. It’s just a shame they’re being so let down by the floor staff. Our waitress was competent, and knew what she was doing (more or less), but made the specials sound like a chore. And she had that glazed-over, bitter attitude.

At one point she was laying down more entree cutlery for M (after having mistakenly cleared it).  M had his hand on the table, just where she wanted to lay the fork. So she just flicked his hand out of the way with the fork.

This waitress must only be a few steps away from stabbing a fork through someone’s hand.

Birthday presents

May 6, 2007

One of these things is not like the other:

1) La Parisienne Pates handmade ‘olives & pips’ plate

2) A Little Taste of Japan cookbook

3) DVD: Anne of Green Gables — The Sequel 

My brother gave me the DVD.

It seems that, when you turn 31, some people feel free to turn the present-giving into piss-taking.

Although I readily acknowledge that this gift from my brother is comic genius, I am confused about a few things. Is the beauty of this gift (a) that although it’s a piss-take I will, in fact, genuinely enjoy watching the DVD a number of times, and therefore the enjoyment of the gift is derived from feeling that I am subverting my brother’s attempt at satire. Or (b) the gift takes the piss out of me but is predicated on the fact that I will actually really enjoy watching the DVD.

I think it’s the latter.

Roast spatchcock

May 3, 2007


Here’s one of my freshly roasted spatchcocks, straight out of the oven.

The recipe is from Gourmet Traveller’s Hot Birds feature. (B has already tested the salt-crusted duck. Works well.) The skin looks especially crispy because it’s pan fried after having marcarpone, parmesan, lemon zest and salt and pepper shovelled between the skin and breast.

The birds weren’t butterflied, so I had to do this myself. M winced as I cleaved the bird open through the sternum, in the manner of Hannibal Lecter. Then I took off each neck with one swift but loud cracking-crunch.

Note that the plate is just a normal dinner-sized plate. Clearly these are not real spatchcocks but baby — even teenage — chickens. The chicken shop is cheating.


May 2, 2007

When M and I first moved in together, I decided to make him some homely, lovingly crafted soup. The soup had a yummy ham hock in it, and some cannellini beans. I thought it quite hearty.

But when I presented it to M, he had a little taste, and said: “This isn’t as good as my mum’s minestrone.”

I have the flu at the moment, so M made me some minestrone. It wasn’t from his mum’s recipe, because he couldn’t find it.

I didn’t say, “this isn’t as good as my mum’s congee,” even though I really wanted to.